The year 2008 could have seen Arsenal, and Arsene Wenger, lift yet another English Premier League trophy together. But, as things would pan out, it didn’t quite happen the way many thought it would turn out.
The start of the 07/08 campaign, saw Arsenal, part ways with Thierry Henry for the first time and saw Eduardo da Silva (who was relatively unknown), move to the Emirates in a £7.5 million deal from Dinamo Zagreb. Eduardo da Silva, who is a Brazilian-born Croatian striker, has quite a resemblance to the current Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
With the departure of Henry to Barcelona in the summer of 2007, that saw Arsenal rake up £16 million for the French legend; Arsenal needed replacing the legend and did so by bringing in Eduardo. Arsenal had strikers like Emmanuel Adebayor – who was just hitting his peak, Robin Van Persie (RVP) – who was only capable of playing 20 games at most in a season and spent the remainder being injured. It didn’t take too long for the Croatian and Adebayor to form a strike partnership that left Arsenal soaring high.
In February 2008, Arsenal was mounting a serious title challenge; leading the table with five points ahead of Manchester United and losing just a game thus far. We had the perfect opportunity to add to our League honours and bring the league title to our new home (Emirates) – which is awaiting.
The fixture at Birmingham changed the title race and of course changed the Arsenal players’ mentality. Eduardo fractured his tibia and fibula during the match with Birmingham at St. Andrews – precisely nine years ago, but more than just his leg was broken. Arsenal’s resolve was shattered too, the mentality of the players changed drastically after Eduardo’s horrific injury and the successive collapse ever since then has haunted the club.
The injury left the squad in distress, as William Gallas who was then captain, was drowning in his own emotions as the match at St. Andrews finished 2-2. Clichy gave away a late penalty to Birmingham in the match, which was scored by James McFadden. Fabregas, on the other hand, was devastated and distressed by the injury of Eduardo, which was inflicted by Martin Taylor who got his marching orders immediately after the incident.
Martin Taylor has since apologised to Eduardo about the incident, he said: “All I remember was him going deep into midfield, turning and taking a touch. I felt he showed me enough of the ball to win it. In my head, I definitely thought I could get that ball. There was never any intention to hurt him. It is not in my mentality to be premeditated or hurt someone. I’m not even the type to be physical with an opponent to ‘show him that I am there’. It was just a fact that I thought the ball was there to win and – as other people have said – Eduardo was too quick for me”.
The incident at St. Andrews left the Arsenal team in trauma, we finished the season in third place, four points behind then-champions Manchester United who finished with 87; losing to both Chelsea and Manchester United and having consecutive draws. The season saw Adebayor finish with thirty goals in all competition, having scored twenty-four league goals – which prompted Manchester City to come calling for him.
Eduardo did return to playing ways for Arsenal in February 2009, but he didn’t quite make it being the same Eduardo pre-injury. At some point, he showed signs of brilliance but didn’t quite get to the level he once was at. The injury did have an effect on Arsenal and Eduardo. Eduardo who is 34, currently plays in Brazil and Arsenal have won only 2 FA Cups and 2 Community Shields nine years on.